Sunday, August 19, 2012

Every Sailor a Leader, Each a Communicator

Review by Bill Doughty

Just as every Sailor is empowered and expected to be a leader, each is also a communicator, especially now in the Information Age, where the world is flatter and getting smaller and more connected.  Whether on Kindle, iPad or Nook or between hard covers and on paper, reading is a key to being better at both leading and communicating. 

In 2012 Navy Reads has offered lists of suggested reading by such notable authors and thinkers as James Hornfischer, Mary Roach, Eric Foner and Rear Adm. Kate Gregory, among others.  Today’s list comes from professors who facilitate and coach at the Center for Executive Education at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

Here’s a suggested top ten reading list for leaders and communicators from Professors Gail Fann Thomas, Rebecca Weintraub, Patricia Riley and Thomas Hollihan and NPS research associate Anita Salem:

“Leading Up” by Michael Useem is a “call to action” toward macrothinking and good communication, where giving courageous advice from the bottom up can prevent problems.  This book opens with a compelling discussion of Lincoln and his generals.  It is a natural fit with “The Courageous Follower” by Ira Chaleff.

“Leading Change” by John P. Cotter, who encourages a sense of urgency, a promotion of good ideas, and a need for lifelong learning in individuals and organizations, where ideas and teams who build together as a coalition are more important than egos and uncooperative “snakes.” 
“Moneyball” by Michael Lewis, the baseball book brought to film starring Brad Pitt as Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, with Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman, shows the importance of statistics and metrics used in rational thinking, communicating and decision making. 

Talk, Inc. by Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind shows the importance for a boss to be a good listener as she or he communicates and to be willing to engage face-to-face and via social media to align the organization.

“Speed of Trust” by Stephen M. R. Covey was brought up in discussion and is on the reading lists of several top Navy commanders.  From the Speed of Trust website: “We believe that a powerful, global renaissance of trust has begun. Sparked by recent world events, business ethics, and the transparency of conversations enabled by the worldwide web, this call for a renaissance of high trust leadership is reverberating around the globe.”

“The Third Wave” by Alvin Toffler, a futurist who literally spans generations, from “Future Shock” published in 1970 to world changes he predicted in the past four decades.  Toffler reveals the value of innovation and integration.  According to the Associated Press, "Toffler has imagination and an ability to think of various future possibilities by transcending prevailing values, assumptions and myths."  

“If Mayors Ruled the World” by Benjamin R. Barber, also author of the prescient 1995 book “Jihad vs. McWorld” (another pre-2001 must-read to explain how and why we arrived at 9/11 and experienced the Arab Spring ten years later). “If Mayors Ruled the World” recognizes the importance of cities as a new paradigm in leadership, moderation and cooperation.

“Intrinsic Motivation at Work” by Kenneth W. Thomas, a book that fits in well with Covey’s “Seven Habits” and  Levitt and Dubner’s “Freakonomics,” proving that the best motivation comes from within.

“Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, is all about memes, urban legend and truth “stickiness.”  With so much information flowing and so little time to ingest and analyze, how can leaders get to the core of a message, ensure credibility and verify their message was successfully communicated and remembered?

“Digital Strategies for Powerful Corporate Communications” by Paul A. Argenti and Courtney M. Barnes is promoted as “a corporate survival guide for the Web 2.0 world.” It’s written for leaders who want to understand and engage in a rapidly networking flattened world of blogs, wikis and transparency.

The Naval Postgraduate School’s Dudley Knox library is rich with books about strategy, history, technology, science and engineering, as one would expect.   Also in the stacks, three copies of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos,” several copies of Thomas Friedman’s “The World Is Flat,” Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner,” and books by Steinbeck and Eudora Welty. Students from dozens of countries, in a wide diversity of uniforms, come to read and learn and think.

Adm. (ret.) Mullen at NPS's Center for Executive Education.
According to former CNO and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. (ret.) Mike Mullen:

"The Naval Postgraduate School is a national - and international - treasure. With its rigorous curriculum, talented faculty and a diverse student body that includes students from all the U.S. armed forces, other federal agencies and more than 60 nations, NPS contributes greatly to enhanced joint, coalition and interagency effectiveness. Knowledge and imagination are the keys to dealing with the challenges of this new era, and here at NPS those keys are forged."

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